Axes of symmetry & receding surfaces

Axes of near-symmetry

I have to thank two short women and a tall man for revealing to me that “axes of near-symmetry” are intimately related to the phenomenon of “orientation constancy”. The tall man was looking over a low wall and he was depicting its top as sloping down from left to right. The short women drew it as horizontal. The fact that the man could see a particular field beyond it that the women were unable to see, meant that he was the only one of the three that was being influenced by what I later came to call the “bakery facade illusion”. The women were right that the top of the wall was horizontal. To find why the man was also right, click on the link below to Chapter 18 of my book “Drawing with Knowledge”. Its title is “Axes of symmetry, recession and the constancies”.




Some photos showing axes of near-symmetry and receding surfaces


axes of symmetry
The old bakery facade, before restoration. The axis of near-symmetry clearly slopes upwards, away from the viewer


axes of near-symmetry
The old bakery facade transformed into new homes. The wall top, the roof bottom and the axis of near-symmetry are very nearly parallel.


axes of near-symmetry
The “bakery facade illusion” in rue de a Porte Neuve. The axis of near-symmetry of the retaning wall to the left slopes up away from the viewer.


receding surfaces
Receding fields with vertical cypress tree as guide  to analysis


receding surfaces
Setting off into a receding landscape. The lowest part of the white house is not far off being the height of the walkers above  their heads


Click here for full contents list for both books on drawing


Chapters so far loaded:


Chapters so far loaded:



Full list of Posts in all categories

Back to the top of the page


One thought on “Axes of symmetry & receding surfaces”

  1. Thank you for this Francis. This is a topic rarely discussed in drawing books. It is easy to be deceived by what we observe, so this topic helps us to become more aware of what to look out for.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *